Belated happy new year. Visiting the Royal College of Nursing headquarters in London last Friday ahead of a meeting of the Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research (NPNR) conference committee (more on that below) gave me an opportunity to pop into the ‘Out of the Asylum’ exhibition. I’m glad I did. Texts, photographs and other artefacts illustrate the history of mental health nursing.
Here are some of the pictures I took. These include a photo of the RCN’s copy of a sixth edition of the Red Handbook, displayed alongside nurses’ badges, a Bethlem Royal Hospital pamphlet, a syringe and other items of interest. For more on the Red Handbook see this earlier post, along with this post which includes material from my copy of a fourth edition of the same. Another picture relates a set of regulations for the bathing of patients.
One of the display boards makes the observation that ‘few mental health nurses now wear uniforms’. As an unfortunate aside, this may need some future updating. From what I’m hearing, the historic trend towards mental health nurses wearing everyday clothes at work is reversing, with numbers of NHS trusts and health boards contemplating a return to uniforms. I regret that. But sticking with the exhibition…
…a final photograph I’m reproducing here is the front sheet of an early 1930s examination paper. Look hard and you’ll see questions on bones, asphyxia and antiseptics (amongst other things).
The NPNR planning meeting, this being the purpose of my trip, was a productive one. This year’s event (the 22nd) will be taking place in Nottingham on September 15th and 16th. I’ll add more on this when I can, and include some regular updates on this site.Follow @benhannigan